What Santa Forgot To Bring Us

by Mark Lovett on December 27, 2009

Two days before Christmas I read a very sad article in The New York Times. Sad for me as it came on the heels of the United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen, a conference during which it became so apparent that greed (hidden behind the words “development” and “growth”) had once again ruled the day.

The New York Times

In Senate Health Care Vote, New Partisan Vitriol, By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN, Published: December 23, 2009

WASHINGTON — The vote on Monday, in the dead of night, was 60 to 40. The vote on Tuesday, just after daybreak, was 60 to 39. And the vote on Wednesday afternoon, at a civil hour but after less-than-civil debate, was 60 to 39 again — an immutable tally that showed Democrats unwavering in the march to adopt a far-reaching overhaul of the health care system over united Republican opposition.

The votes also marked something else: the culmination of more than a generation of partisan polarization of the American political system, and a precipitous decline in collegiality and collaboration in governing that seemed to move in inverse proportion to a rising influence of lobbying, money, the 24-hour news cycle and hostilities on talk shows and in the blogosphere.

How did we get to this point, where politics has eliminated any chance of people coming first? Once upon a time it was possible for both sides of the isle to work on critical issues such as equal rights (1960s) and the environment (1970s), uniting in a fashion that put the common good ahead of political turf wars. Crossing the isle was common.

That’s no longer the case, as Republicans and Democrats alike spend the majority of their time protecting their own self interests. A similar tone had enveloped Copenhagen, as many countries, both rich and poor, cried, “What about me?”, instead of pondering, “What about the planet?”

I had hoped that we would see an outpouring of compassionate, intelligent, well-meaning political leaders, both domestic and abroad, but my stocking was empty, again. The only thing I found was a note from Santa that simply said, “Better luck next year my friend.”

Are we seeing the end of honest government leadership? What are your thoughts?

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Beth Ziesenis December 30, 2009 at 7:03 am

Mark, your point just proves your mission… that we all must be global patriots and stop relying on leaders to change what’s broken. They are deadlocked — they don’t see a common goal. But when we as individuals see ways we can help, things we can do to move forward, we make real progress.

Thanks for spreading your word and keeping your vigil. Because of you I tend to think more globally when I make my decisions, and as you continue to share your message, we can make the deadlocked governments less of a roadblock to true change.
.-= Beth Ziesenis´s last blog ..Da Button Factory: Another quick button generator =-.

Reply

Global Patriot January 3, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Leaders have their role, but you’re right Beth, they are not living up to their promises, which means that it is up to us if we want this world to change for the better!

Reply

Beth Ziesenis December 30, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Mark, your point just proves your mission… that we all must be global patriots and stop relying on leaders to change what’s broken. They are deadlocked — they don’t see a common goal. But when we as individuals see ways we can help, things we can do to move forward, we make real progress.

Thanks for spreading your word and keeping your vigil. Because of you I tend to think more globally when I make my decisions, and as you continue to share your message, we can make the deadlocked governments less of a roadblock to true change.
.-= Beth Ziesenis´s last blog ..Da Button Factory: Another quick button generator =-.

Reply

GlobalPatriot January 4, 2010 at 5:08 am

Leaders have their role, but you’re right Beth, they are not living up to their promises, which means that it is up to us if we want this world to change for the better!

Reply

Anders Sporring December 29, 2009 at 9:30 am

Mark, The conference in Copenhagen was (as usual I almost said) a disappointment, seems our leaders in the World don’t or refuse to see the gravity of the pollution/Global warming. If they don’t see it, how can we (as in the Global citizens) see and act towards a better World for all of us? I get really scared when I think about my grandchildren and generations to come that have to deal with what we leave behind us. Scary……

Btw did you see that I have started another channel at Twingly? http://www.twingly.com/environment only 4 members there so far and its under development, but it’s a good way to keep track of things!
Happy New Year and I hope I see you soon here in Stockholm again!
.-= Anders Sporring´s last blog ..SEASONS GREETINGS =-.

Reply

GlobalPatriot December 29, 2009 at 9:36 pm

I think the leaders understand the gravity, but are compelled by their short term vision to put off any action. “We’ll take care of that later.” seems to be a common approach. I’m eager to see Stockholm again, as that is one city which has done much in the way of addressing climate change.

Reply

Keith Booe December 29, 2009 at 10:18 am

Honest government leadership has been missing for many years. Copenhagen was destined to be a failure because you had so many self-serving people in the same room trying to come to an agreement. By self-serving, I mean they are exactly as you pointed out… “what about me (which translates to what is best for my people right now)”.

The world is a very ego-centric place, and people (including governments) wait around for a catalyst to address larger issues, while focusing on what is in their own yard right now; people like you that ARE that catalyst are in too much of the minority right now, which is unfortunate. There continue to be more high visibility (read that as “sensationalized in the news”, not necessarily pressing) issues such as wars, terrorism, the economy… these have a more readily apparent impact on every day life, and therefore are the squeaky wheel.

If one must make a decision to do the planet good, but which may impact negatively the economy or industry *right now*, then the thought will almost always be “there is time to take care of the planet once the economy is fixed”. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just pointing out the short-sightedness of humanity. I can’t say I know what the answer is, as frankly I think this may be one of those situations where the leaders of this initiative that CAN drive change have to make some small-group multilateral decisions on how THEY will deal with this issue, and once traction is gained, others will see the benefit and subscribe to the theory (if not the specific practices).

I don’t believe governments are capable of addressing this in the timely fashion that it needs to be, but a small group of focused governments could provide some leadership by example. Much like healthcare, not everyone will agree on HOW to address something, even if they do agree something must be done. But candidly, if we get to the point where we have global agreement on how to solve a problem, our solutions will likely be just as bad as our vision.

Reply

Global Patriot December 29, 2009 at 2:33 pm

You bring up a good point Keith when you state that many people and governments tend to focus “on what is in their own yard right now”, and as long as a majority of people (at least in the United States) have health care, and climate change has not effected their own back yard directly, these issues remain on the back burner.

Reply

Keith Booe December 29, 2009 at 5:18 pm

Honest government leadership has been missing for many years. Copenhagen was destined to be a failure because you had so many self-serving people in the same room trying to come to an agreement. By self-serving, I mean they are exactly as you pointed out… “what about me (which translates to what is best for my people right now)”.

The world is a very ego-centric place, and people (including governments) wait around for a catalyst to address larger issues, while focusing on what is in their own yard right now; people like you that ARE that catalyst are in too much of the minority right now, which is unfortunate. There continue to be more high visibility (read that as “sensationalized in the news”, not necessarily pressing) issues such as wars, terrorism, the economy… these have a more readily apparent impact on every day life, and therefore are the squeaky wheel.

If one must make a decision to do the planet good, but which may impact negatively the economy or industry *right now*, then the thought will almost always be “there is time to take care of the planet once the economy is fixed”. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just pointing out the short-sightedness of humanity. I can’t say I know what the answer is, as frankly I think this may be one of those situations where the leaders of this initiative that CAN drive change have to make some small-group multilateral decisions on how THEY will deal with this issue, and once traction is gained, others will see the benefit and subscribe to the theory (if not the specific practices).

I don’t believe governments are capable of addressing this in the timely fashion that it needs to be, but a small group of focused governments could provide some leadership by example. Much like healthcare, not everyone will agree on HOW to address something, even if they do agree something must be done. But candidly, if we get to the point where we have global agreement on how to solve a problem, our solutions will likely be just as bad as our vision.

Reply

GlobalPatriot December 29, 2009 at 9:33 pm

You bring up a good point Keith when you state that many people and governments tend to focus “on what is in their own yard right now”, and as long as a majority of people (at least in the United States) have health care, and climate change has not effected their own back yard directly, these issues remain on the back burner.

Reply

Anders Sporring December 29, 2009 at 2:30 am

Mark, The conference in Copenhagen was (as usual I almost said) a disappointment, seems our leaders in the World don’t or refuse to see the gravity of the pollution/Global warming. If they don’t see it, how can we (as in the Global citizens) see and act towards a better World for all of us? I get really scared when I think about my grandchildren and generations to come that have to deal with what we leave behind us. Scary……

Btw did you see that I have started another channel at Twingly? http://www.twingly.com/environment only 4 members there so far and its under development, but it’s a good way to keep track of things!
Happy New Year and I hope I see you soon here in Stockholm again!
.-= Anders Sporring´s last blog ..SEASONS GREETINGS =-.

Reply

Global Patriot December 29, 2009 at 2:36 pm

I think the leaders understand the gravity, but are compelled by their short term vision to put off any action. “We’ll take care of that later.” seems to be a common approach. I’m eager to see Stockholm again, as that is one city which has done much in the way of addressing climate change.

Reply

Steffan Antonas December 28, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Mark,

Until we design systems where Politicians are transparently accountable for what they actually DO, words will likely continue to fail to connect to action. We’ve had this conversation before – policy is where big change happens in government, and it takes a lot of people and a lot of time to change policy. Perhaps more answers lie in the public sector?
.-= Steffan Antonas´s last blog ..The Future Of Magazines? =-.

Reply

Global Patriot December 28, 2009 at 4:29 pm

While I’ve been hoping for leadership, and accountability, from the top, your final point is where I think the answer lies. It’s largely up to us when it comes to living the policies that we want implemented.

Reply

Steffan Antonas December 28, 2009 at 11:19 pm

Mark,

Until we design systems where Politicians are transparently accountable for what they actually DO, words will likely continue to fail to connect to action. We’ve had this conversation before – policy is where big change happens in government, and it takes a lot of people and a lot of time to change policy. Perhaps more answers lie in the public sector?
.-= Steffan Antonas´s last blog ..The Future Of Magazines? =-.

Reply

GlobalPatriot December 28, 2009 at 11:29 pm

While I’ve been hoping for leadership, and accountability, from the top, your final point is where I think the answer lies. It’s largely up to us when it comes to living the policies that we want implemented.

Reply

Giovanna Garcia December 28, 2009 at 3:08 pm

Hi Mark,
I wonder if we “America” will ever get out of debt?! You asked a very good question… Leadership can’t happen if no one is willing to stick their neck out.

Thanks sharing,
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Reply

Global Patriot December 28, 2009 at 3:38 pm

The debt question is very important Giovanna. As you can see by the counter in the right column we’re well over $12 trillion in debt and the number keeps rising. Politicians find it easy to cut taxes, as that’s a sure way to purchase our vote, but they don’t have the guts to cut spending and balance the budget.

Reply

Giovanna Garcia December 28, 2009 at 10:08 pm

Hi Mark,
I wonder if we “America” will ever get out of debt?! You asked a very good question… Leadership can’t happen if no one is willing to stick their neck out.

Thanks sharing,
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Reply

GlobalPatriot December 28, 2009 at 10:38 pm

The debt question is very important Giovanna. As you can see by the counter in the right column we’re well over $12 trillion in debt and the number keeps rising. Politicians find it easy to cut taxes, as that’s a sure way to purchase our vote, but they don’t have the guts to cut spending and balance the budget.

Reply

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